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Bahrain: Comparing the Bahraini and Japanese work ethic

Bahraini blogger Yagoob is currently studying in Japan – and has seen firsthand the legendary Japanese work ethic. In this post he compares the attitude of many Bahrainis towards work with that of the Japanese.

Yagoob starts by mentioning an extreme case of an employee trying to avoid losing a day's pay:

في الآونة الأخيرة ظهرت عدة تقارير في صحفنا المحلية لفتت نظري و خاصة عندما أحاول أن أقارن بين العقلية البحرينية و اليابانية تجاه العمل و احترام الوظيفة
فأولاً ورد في صفيحة أخبار الخليج مقال عن أحد المغفلين يعمل في مكتب طيران الخليج بالقرب من مطار البحرين الدولي قام بالاتصال بمكتب عمله ليبلغهم ببلاغ كاذب عن وجود قنبلة داخل المبنى مما أدى بالطبع إلى إخلاء المبنى طوال اليوم و ضياع ساعات العمل و مداخيلها
و السبب في هذا التصرف الأحمق هو بأن صاحب هذه الفكرة الجهنمية كان يشعر بآلام في معدته و قد استنفد جميع إجازاته المرضية و لم يريد أن يخسر من راتبه أجر يوماً يتيماً
و الآن بعد أن تمكنت السلطات الأمنية بالعثور عليه في وقت قياسي و التحقق معه فأصبح مستقبله مهدد بفقدان وظيفته و رزقه و كل هذا من أجل حفنة من الدنانير لا يريد خسارتها
In recent times a number of reports have appeared in our local newspapers that have caught my attention, especially when I attempt to compare the Bahraini mentality and that of the Japanese towards work and respect for one's job. First, in Akhbar Al Khaleej newspaper, an article appeared about one of the idiots who work in the Gulf Air office near Bahrain International Airport, who called his office to spin them a tale about a bomb in the building – which of course led to an evacuation that lasted the whole day, meaning money and hours of work were lost.
The reason for this idiotic behaviour was that the man with this hellish idea had stomach ache, but had used up all his sick leave, and didn’t want to lose any of his salary, a single day's pay. Now, after the security services were able to trace him in record time, he has been investigated, and his future is threatened by the loss of his job and livelihood. All this for a handful of dinars he didn’t want to lose.

Then, after referring to a case of questionable employment practice, Yagoob says:

الذي أريد أن أتوصل إليه من هذه المواقف بأن العقلية تجاه العمل ببحريننا العزيزة متخلفة جداً فالبعض يعمل و يجتهد ليبحث عن عذر أو سبب أن يغيب من العمل ( و خاصة من عمل حكومي, حيث يعتقد أن عمله مضمون لا يمكن لاحد أن يفصله عن عمله مهما كان عمله سيء) و يفتخر بأنه تحايل على عمله لكي يقضي وقته في التافه و اللامفيد
و من جهة أخرى نرى أن بعض جهات العمل تضغط على موظيفيها الذين يعملون بجد و إخلاص و تتربص الفرص للتخلص منهم و وضع من هو أسوأ منهم في مكانهم.
What I wish to say about these situations is that the attitude towards work in our beloved Bahrain is very backward; some toil and strive to find excuses or reasons to be absent from work (especially government jobs). They believe that their position is guaranteed, and no one can take it away from them, even if their work is bad. They are proud because they cheat their work to waste time on trivial and useless matters. On the other hand, some employers put pressure on their employees who work hard and loyally, and wait for an opportunity to get rid of them and put someone worse in their place.

He then turns to what he has seen in Japan:

لو نرى إلى العقلية اليابانية للعمل فنرى ان العديد منهم يعيشوا كي يعملوا و أن أولى أولوياتهم في الحياة هي العمل, فأرى منهم على سبيل المثال في جامعتي فالأساتذة
يحضرون الجامعة في حوالي الساعة 7 صباحاً (مع العلم بأن الدوام يبدأ الساعة 8:45 صباحاً) و يعودون إلى منازلهم في الساعة السابعة أو الثامنة مساءاً أحياناً (مع العلم بأن الدوام ينتهي في الساعة الخامسة و النصف)
و يجب أيضا نضع في عين الإعتبار بأن معظمهم لا يسكنون المدنية و إنما في مدن أخرى تبعد بالساعة أو الساعتين عن مقر عملهم فإني اشعر بأن ليست لهم أي حياة اجتماعية و بيتوهم كالقبور يناموا فيها فقط
و من جانب آخر, فإن مرض و هو قادر أن يعمل (مصاب بزكام إلخ) فإنه يذهب إلى العمل و يحرص على لبس كمامة تغطي أنفه و فمه لكي لا يعدي الآخرين معه بمرضه و يقلل فرص مرضهم و ترك عملهم في إجازة مرضية
If we look at the Japanese mentality to work, we find that many of them live to work and that their first priority in life is work. For example, I see some of them in my university; the professors arrive at university at about 7am (working hours start at 8.45am) and sometimes go home at 7pm or 8pm (working hours end at 5.30pm).
We must also bear in mind that most of them do not live in the city but rather in other cities that are an hour or two away from their work. I feel that they don’t have any social life, and that their homes are like graves where all they do is sleep.
In addition, if someone is ill and able to work (if he has a cold, etc) then he goes to work and tries to wear a mask covering his nose and mouth so as not to give others his sickness, and to reduce the chance of them getting ill and having to take sick leave.

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